Writing on Spitalfields Life, The Gentle Author said the workshop has been based out of Clerkenwell Road, Farringdon, since not long after it was established by self-styled “gentleman bookbinder” Mark Winstanley in 1990.
An early graduate of the London College of Printing’s craft bookbinding course in 1976, Winstanley started his business with partners Hannah More and Rosie Gray with the intent to provide “unpretentious” bindery by hand while maintaining a reverence for age-old craftsmanship and a means to preserve ageing, precious literary and cultural artefacts.
“We started the Wyvern Bindery in 1990 in the Clerkenwell workshops,” Winstanley told The Gentle Author. “We got it going from nothing and we turned over £35,000 in the first year, with a little bit of luck and some hard work. After five years, we took this shop at £5,000 a year.
“There are three crucial elements you need to run a successful bindery. You need a clientele with an appetite for handmade bindings. You need a skilled labour force to do the binding, and you need a nice rich city like London.
“We apply craft skills to a commercial proposition. It might not be art, but it’s clean and neat and it’s done on time.”
Although the company’s trade focuses on these sorts of commercial bindings, the shop also takes on repairs of older editions – a key passion for Winstanley, who recently flew out to Ethiopia on invitation to restore the Abba Garima Gospels, a holy script written circa 560 AD.
Winstanley told Printweek the business will move from Clerkenwell to 187 Hoxton Street, N1 6RA on Friday 13 March. It will be closed on that day and Monday 16 March, with its services remaining unchanged when it reopens at its new base.
He said: “We are moving because the rents in Clerkenwell are now heading towards £80 a square foot. When we started in 1990, the rate was more like £5 a square foot! Hoxton offers a much better deal and our services will be exactly the same as before.
“Everything we make is bespoke, hand made in the bindery. We bind anything from a simple magazine binding to a run of full leather fine bindings with hand sewn headbands, marble end papers and gilt spine.
“For the photographer we make portfolios and boxes, and for the university student we bind final submissions. For the collector we repair damaged books, for the set designer on films and TV, special books for film props, and for the hungry restaurateur we make menu covers and wine lists. We also emboss and letter anything from jewellery boxes, wallets, bags, and even cricket balls. The future will be exciting as we move to fresh pastures.”
The business is running an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign to help with some of the costs of its move.